An ode to two iconic cars and a campaign that has touched a nation
At the end of this Sisonke Siya Winna campaign, there will be two lucky fans who will be handed the keys to these cars. But over the past few months, what these cars represent has touched millions who’ve watched the online videos of the rebuild.
Actor Darlington Michaels (Papa G) knows exactly what it means to be able to make somebody feel something. What he wasn’t quite prepared for this morning at Vodacom World in Midrand, is feeling something so strongly himself.
“It’s too much,” he says as he runs his hand over the bonnet of the pitch-black Gusheshe. “This brings back so many memories. It’s too much.”
In front of Michaels was one of the two iconic cars that Vodacom had completely rebuilt as part of its ground-breaking Sisonke Siya Winna campaign. Inspired by the icons of the Soweto culture, Vodacom briefed the team of LA Customs in Paarl to source the countryside for a BMW 325i E30 and a Toyota Twincam GLI Sprinter – known in the townships as a Gusheshe and Kentucky Rounder respectively – and not just rebuild them to their former glory but customise them in the style and colours of Orlando Pirates (the Gusheshe) and Kaizer Chiefs (the Kentucky Rounder). These will then be given away to a lucky fan from each club.
People like the 75-year-old Michaels.
“I’ve seen Gusheshes and Kentucky Rounders in my lifetime, but I’ve never seen two like these ones. These are special. It makes me feel proud. It makes me want to cry. When I look at these cars, it’s quite emotional for me,” he says.
Fellow actor Zakhele Mabasa (Skhaleni) has joined him at Vodacom World for an exclusive look at these two cars and was just as overcome.
“This is more than just amazing my brother. This speaks our language, especially the township culture. This represents us. They did a stunning job on these cars,” he says.
It is exactly what these cars represent, and how perfectly this has been captured in their design, that has both Michaels and Mabasa in awe of a project which they believe achieved something so rare in South Africa.
“Vodacom is one of the few companies that has dealt successfully with local culture,” says Michaels. “I really see them as pioneers in terms of understanding and embracing our local culture. They get it right because they don’t just get in on the surface of wanting to know our culture. They get deep into the root of knowing that culture.”
Mabasa agrees. “They did their research with these cars. This touches base with what’s relevant and what people love. They’ve gone deep into this and have listened to the people. They’re on ground level with the people, hence they’re always on point.”
And that’s when Mabasa turns to Michaels, and they start to share their memories.
“Remember Timer, we even had praise poetry for these cars. The BMW, we called it a Be My Wife or a Bari Moet Wag. These cars speak to you and revive so many memories. You couldn’t go wrong with these cars. We also called the Kentucky Rounder Finger Licking Good. It would never let you down. These cars live in our bloodstreams.”
Michaels remembers the first Gusheshe he ever climbed into. “A friend of mine used to drive a Gusheshe. I loved that car from the moment I first saw it. It brings back a lot of memories. For me, that Gusheshe revives me. It makes me feel 20 to 30 years younger. I remember my days as a young man dressed beautifully and driving in my friend’s Gusheshe. These two cars are what we wanted to own. If you had a Gusheshe, people took you seriously. If you had a Kentucky Rounder, that’s what you took your girlfriend out in to show you had style.”
Given the chance to drive just one of these vehicles for one day, both Michaels and Mabasa had no doubt as to where they would go.
“I would drive it to a tavern in Soweto that we always used to go to. I would drive to that place, open up the doors and just let it bring back the old memories,” says Michaels.
Mabasa insists he’d first take it on a tour from Johannesburg to Pretoria and back. “Then I’d got straight to Moja Café in Soweto, and then to Stoep 15 on 15th Avenue in Alex. Believe me, as soon as you stop there, these cars will be surrounded with people, because people remember what these cars meant to them.”
At the end of this Sisonke Siya Winna campaign, there will be two lucky fans who will be handed the keys to these cars. But over the past few months, what these cars represent has touched millions who’ve watched the online videos of the rebuild or read the stories as Vodacom has sought to capture the spirit of these icons, and give them a new life as icons of Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
And through the watery eyes of a born-and-bred Sowetan such as Michaels, it’s taken him back to that time before the grey beard and walking with a crutch.
It’s taken him back as a young man to a young Soweto, when anything was possible.
And it’s made him feel something again.
To stand a chance to win one of these incredible vehicles, fans from both teams simply need to follow @VodacomSoccer to get more details or click here.
Kaizer Chiefs fans will get to double their entries when they connect and recharge with KC Mobile and for Bhakajuju fans, all they have to do to double their entries is to download the Orlando Pirates Official App.
Remember competition closes soon. #SisonkeSiyaWinna